November 28, 2020

Distinct signatures of calcium activity in brain pericytes

Even though pericytes have been implicated in various neurological disorders, little is known about their function and signaling pathways in the healthy brain. Here, we characterized cortical pericyte calcium dynamics using two-photon imaging of Pdgfr{beta}-CreERT2;GCaMP6s mice under anesthesia in vivo and in brain slices ex vivo. We found distinct differences between pericyte subtypes in vivo: Ensheathing pericytes exhibited smooth muscle cell-like calcium dynamics, while calcium signals in capillary pericytes were irregular, higher in frequency and occurred in cellular microdomains. In contrast to ensheathing pericytes, capillary pericytes retained their spontaneous calcium signals during prolonged anesthesia and in the absence of blood flow ex vivo. Chemogenetic activation of neurons in vivo and acute increase of extracellular potassium in brain slices strongly decreased calcium activity in capillary pericytes. We propose that neuronal activity-induced elevations in extracellular potassium suppress calcium activity in capillary pericytes, likely mediated by Kir2.2 and KATP channel activation.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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